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The Associated Students of UC Irvine has taken a stance against the budget cuts proposed by Governor Brown. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 the Legislative Council passed legislation (R46-60) in opposition to such cuts. The legislation urges the California State Legislature to open discussion on alternatives that do not hinder public higher education.

The proposed cuts are clearly a threat to public higher education and the promise of affordable, accessible and quality education. If the cuts pass through the legislature, the students and their families will be paying more in fees than the state for the first time in the history of California. Many claims can be made regarding what public education should be, whether free or state-funded, but it is certain that there is a public aspect that ensures that the state should fund the University of California. It is outrageous that the university was once free while in the past three years we have seen fee increases of over 40 percent! This is not only making the university unaffordable, but also inaccessible! Further cuts from the state will only raise fees further and hurt the quality of our education by cutting faculty, student services and all other aspects that make the University of California a world-class institution.

As we move forward we know the battle is not over. First of all, the proposed cuts are highly dependent on $11.2 billion in revenue from a statewide initiative. For the initiative to even go on the ballot, it will require a two-thirds passage in both houses. Republicans in both houses have taken a stance against any proposed taxes, making this a tough challenge for Governor Brown’s proposal. If the proposed revenue does not pass, the state will be facing even more drastic cuts ahead.

The executive vice president’s office will not stand still as this proposition is brought up in hearings. In November 2010, the EVP office lobbied the offices of Senator Tom Harman, Senator Bob Huff and Assemblyman Chris Norby. In December 2010, we lobbied Assemblyman Jim Silva and Representative George Miller. In the coming days we are also planning to meet with Assemblyman Don Wagner, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and Senator Alan Lowenthal, as well as follow-up meetings with Senator Huff and Representative Miller.

We truly believe that our previous advocacy efforts with our legislature have helped higher education. However, this is a never-ending cycle, as there are many other interest groups that lobby Sacramento year-round.

In collaboration with the UC Student Association (UCSA), the EVP office will take students to Sacramento Feb. 25-28. The weekend will focus on the annual Student Lobby Conference that teaches how to lobby and culminates with lobby visits at the Capitol building. Given that the proposed budget cuts are scheduled to be voted on in early March, it is imperative that students lobby and rally Sacramento to prevent these draconian cuts from occurring. I would like to extend an invitation to all Anteaters to apply to this conference, which will be funded by the EVP office. Applications are available at https://www.asuci.uci.edu/ (under Student Lobby Conference Application) and are due Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.

We will fight these cuts and any proposed fee increases! We must come together and advocate for our education!

Andres Gonzalez is the Executive Vice President of the Associated Students of UCI. He can be reach at executivevp@asuci.uci.edu.

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